Friday, April 27, 2012

Steirereck im Stadtpark

After meals of sausages and schnitzels we thought it was time to check out Vienna's fine-dining scene. Steirereck im Stadtpark seemed the perfect choice.  Situated in the middle of Stadtpark we could imagine how popular it would get in the summer.
A celery amuse bouche. We were not sure if we were supposed to eat the whole celery?  Or the little marinated sliver of celery wedged in between.  I suspected the latter.
Loved the crunchy breadsticks.
Another amuse bouche with cucumber.
Another one with pears.  I have to say none of them left a lasting impression.
Now the bread cart was a different story.  We tried a number of them and everything was delicious.
We even liked the butter arrangement.  It made more sense than a slap of butter or half melted one which I avoid usually.
A complimentary appetizer with fish.  I can't say I remember what it was like.  
Finally our starters.  Warm marinated brown trout with baby Chioggia beets and crudites (€39).  The dish was so beautiful we didn't want to ruin it.  Trout was slowed cooked in beet and radish marinade. It therefore had that succulent slowed cooked property which worked quite well with the texture of trout.  Chioggia beets are originally from the north Italian city of Chioggia and its beautiful pink and white marbled tones have made it popular worldwide.
Crayfish with parsnip custard strudel and limes (€42).  The local crayfish from Dornau estate was sweet and tender, it had that melt-in-the-mouth texture to it.  Perhaps they were also slow-cooked?  The custard strudel was made with thyme flavoured milk jelly and parsnip cream with dots of currants.  It was very tasty on its own and it added a refreshing yet somewhat creamy compliment to the crayfish.  It was a good match as supposed to the lime butter on the side which I found too tart.
I should find out why they seem to set their cutlery upside down in Vienna?  We saw the same thing at the palace's display.
Turbot with lamb tripe, razor clams, wild broccoli and chestnut mushrooms (€46/person).  The turbot was so big it serves two.  While we were impressed with the excellent tasting turbot which was confited on the bone in brown butter, we didn't really understand the dish.  Yes the addition of razor clams made the dish more interesting in taste and texture but what was the point of lamb tripe and bitter wild broccoli?  We thought some of the more exotic ingredients were probably added to impress and they didn't really connect to the turbot itself.  And to be honest the presentation could be a bit nicer.  Having said all that the turbot was probably the best we had had, and it didn't need all the fuss and complicated distractions.
We liked that each of the courses came with a little card with explanations.   It's a good call given how complex some of the dishes were.
Viennese violet souffle with champagne ice cream, blackcurrant and calamint.  Our first upside down souffle and we weren't sure why.  We loved the faint and refreshing violet taste and the champagne ice cream was a perfect match.  Unfortunately the half-frozen black currant creme was way too overpowering.  They were like Ribena cubes and we didn't think they were necessary.
Loved the light and zesty petits fours.  

 Am Heumarkt 2A, im Stadtpark, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.  Tel: 01 713 3168

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kurkonditorei Oberlaa

On our last day we finally got a chance to try another famous Vienna offering: cakes!  I walked past (and looked at) so many cake shops but did not have the courage to have one, as I had stupidly assumed the cakes would be too heavy and that they would ruin my appetite for dinner.  I couldn't have been more wrong!!!
How could anyone say no to this?  I wanted to kick myself.
Cremeschnitte (€3.20).
Mango-Schokolade Torte (€3.60).  Both cakes were fluffy and light I could easily eat 2 or 3 pieces at a time!!  I should have been eating cakes everyday.
Kurkonditorei Oberlaa
Neuer Markt 16, Vienna 1010, Austria.  Tel: 01 513 2936

Ristorante Pizzeria Santa Lucia

Our hotel concierge recommended Santa Lucia as we wanted something quick from the neighbourhood.  An Indian-run Italian place we were a little skeptical at first but our lunch turned out to be pretty nice.  Little did we know though at the back of the very big menu there are some Indian dishes!  We would have gone for some curry instead!

Salami pizza (€6.90).  We liked the freshly baked crust but it's not the best pizza in town I am sure.
Spaghetti carbonara (€6.50).  It's not as rich  and creamy as I would like it to be,  it was perfect for a light lunch.  Again I think we should have gone for the Indian dishes.
Ristorante Pizzeria Santa Lucia
Salesianergasse 10, 1030 Vienna, Austria.  Tel: 01 714 2163

Bistro 59

A quick dinner after a day of sighting and shopping in the Kärntner area. I just wanted somewhere to sit and something quick to eat and Bistro 59 seemed perfect.  My basic grilled sausage dinner (€6.90) suited me very well.  I could eat another one!
Bistro 59
Kärntner Straße 59, 1010 Vienna, Austria.  Tel: 01 505 0722


I came across Servitengasse after my visit to the Sigmund Freud Museum and from the handfuls of restaurant I decided to give Porzellen a try.  I guess I liked the minimal decor and it's looks like sort of place I would want to sit down and have a drink.
The daily special soup.  It was very welcoming on that windy day.  The strips tasted like a doughy crepe and it was nice with the soup.
Again from the daily special strudel with spinach and potato.  I finally got to try this Austrian speciality and it did not disappoint.  Spinach and potato never tasted so good and being a meat lover I found the dish very satisfying and wholesome.  A must have in Vienna! 
Servitengasse 4, 1090 Vienna, Austria.  Tel: 01 310 2079

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Salm Bräu

We got to Vienna early evening and we quickly headed out for an early dinner before my husband headed off to his meeting.  We took the hotel's suggestion and found this neat brewery down the road from our hotel.  The place was packed already at 6pm and we took it as a good sign!

The menu was fairly big with Viennese comfort food items such as schnitzel, sausages, rye bread with different toppings, and tafelspitz of course. 

Since it was going to be a quick meal I resisted the temptation of trying the rye bread with toppings (which include a hot-and-spicy secret beer spread recipe, ham, salami, brie and pepper, you name it).  Instead I dived right into a bauernschmaus - farmer's banquet with smoked meat, sausages, roast pork, bread dumpling and beer cabbage (10.60).  Loved the sausages, smoked meat and ham.  The roast pork was too coarse and dry for me but it was very close to the version I had in Bavaria.  I guess it's how they like it!  I can't say I understood the bread dumpling.  The texture was very soggy and doughy it's what I would imagine bread would be like soaked in water.
Original Viennese schnitzel with parsley potatoes and cranberries (14.90).  A must try in Vienna I guess and it didn't disappoint.   Tender and juicy pork in tasty batter.  What else can you ask for?
Salm Bräu
Rennweg 8, 1030 Vienna, Austria.  Tel: 0043 1 799 5992

Strada Cucina Italiana

We were happy to see Strada, an Italian chain restaurant, at Heathrow Terminal 3 as our other alternative would be sandwiches and I really wanted (and needed) a proper lunch before our flight to Vienna. 

Risotto verdure (₤10.25). Grilled asparagus on a risotto of edamame and green beans, peas, spring onions, courgette, spinach, white wine and mint.  It sounded very healthy and delicious on the menu but it came out really bland.  The lack of flavour made the dish very boring.
Strozzapreti pugliese (₤10.75).  Strozzapreti pasta served with Luganica sausage, cured pancetta and broccoli, finished with fresh red chili butter and Grana Padano.  It was probably the best food I ever tasted at an airport!  The ingredients came very nicely together and the chili butter was a genius touch to add to the already very flavourful dish.
Strada Cucina Italiana
Heathrow Terminal 3 Airside, Hounslow, TW6 12G, UK.  Tel: -2- 8564-7860

Rockfish Seafood and Chips Restaurant

Victorian lemonade (₤2.75).  I always like lemonade which is more tart but this Victorian one is very very hardcore.  I got a bit worried about my stomach at one point!
Large plaice fillet in beer batter with chips (₤13.95).  Portion was big but plaice was not the freshest unfortunately.  We've had better fish at cheaper prices definitely.
Rockfish scampi with chips (₤16.95).  Made with Scottish langoustine the scampi was delicious and very enjoyable.  It somewhat saved the very expensive meal. 
Rockfish Seafood and Chips Restaurant
8 South Embankment, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 9BH, UK.  Tel: 01803 832800

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baker and Spice

A quick and reliable lunch at Baker and Spice. Loved the hearty minestrone (~RMB30) especially on a cold day.
The daily special pasta with salmon and zucchini (~RMB60).  The pasta dishes are usually  reasonably nice and this one was no exception.  It had that healthy homemade comfort food feel to it. 
Baker and Spice
Four locations in Shanghai

Xin Wang Restaurant 新旺茶餐厅

I fell victim to Xin Wang a few years back at a different branch. Claiming to be a Hong Kong fast food joint its food was nothing remotely Cantonese let alone Hong Kong style.  I was a fool again in thinking this new branch would be different.  After all the restaurants are always packed with people (mind you I never saw any Cantonese speakers there, unlike Tusi Wah).  What a mistake.  My wonton was marginally acceptable.  Portion was very small and I don't think it was cheap (~RMB40).
From the special cart noodle menu I decided to give the famous Hong Kong street food a try.  There were lots of toppings to choose from and I picked a number of common ones:  fish balls amongst other things which were so unmemorable I forgot what they were.  All I can say is that the curry soup base was horrible and the toppings tasted like frozen supermarket varieties.  And they had the nerve to charge RMB6 to RMB8 per topping.  Robbery!
Xin Wang Restaurant 新旺茶餐厅
L126, Kerry Parkside, 1378 Hua Mu Rd. (nr. Fang Dian Rd.), Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 5891-0362

Aniseed 大茴香

Even though I was not overly impressed with my meal at Aniseed Kerry Parkside I decided to give the SWFC branch a go. I'm so glad I did because the food at SWFC was so much more superior. It's going to be my favourite Vietnamese joint in town!

Aniseed house special pho (RMB42).  It was so good I chowed it down in no time.  I even asked the manager why it tasted so much better than the one at Kerry Parkside and she didn't seem to know.  She added however that I  was not the first person to mention it though. 
Bánh cuốn, steamed rice rolls with ground pork and mushroom (RMB32).  It was simply delicious!   Not only were the pork and mushroom very well seasoned, the chả lụa sausage on top was also the best in Shanghai.
Aniseed 大茴香
2/F, SWFC, 100 Century Avenue, Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 6163-8567

Julie's Bistro

Our first visit to Julie's and judging by all he poutine dishes on the menu it's trying to have a Canadian twist.  Our chili cheese poutine (RMB90) was pricey but it's a meal on its own.  I usually prefer the plain version with just gravy and cheese but this one wasn't bad.  Could use a bit more chili cheese though.
 Slow cooked pulled chicken sandwich (RMB70).  I guess there's a reason why you usually see pulled pork instead of chicken as cjicken tends to dry out more, as in this case.  Not the best pulled meat sandwich.
 Classic cheese burger (RMB75) with extra order of fried egg.  Good burger but could go a little easy on the salt.
Julie's Bistro
2/F, Shanghai World Financial Centre, 100 Century Avenue (nr. Dong Tai Rd.), Pudong, Shanghai. Tel: 6877-9198

Friday, April 06, 2012

Yi Long Court

We thought we would get some decent dim sum as the chef is a Hong Kong based Michelin Star chef but I guess the emphasis is on dinner and not lunch. The few dishes we order were very ordinary and for the prices they were charging we were expecting much more. 

We weren't sure why we were given walnuts but they turned out to be really nice and crunchy.  It made even more sense considering how long we had to wait for our dishes to arrive.
Spring rolls with coconut fillings.  They turned out to be a mild curry sauce and the were underwhelming.  Would have preferred regular spring rolls.
Somehow sum sum dishes all came in three pieces.  Our har gau wasn't bad.
Beef balls were extremely average tasting, just like any microwave version.
Rice rolls with char siu was mediocre also.  We also got a fried glutinous rice dish (which took forever to arrive) and our bill came close to RMB450.  We felt that it was very very expensive for a mediocre meal.
Yi Long Court
2/F, Peninsula Hotel Shanghai, No. 32 The Bund, Shanghai.  Tel: 2327-2888

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Tasty Congee & Noodle 正斗粥面专家

My Singapore noodles (~RMB60) was very pricey and it came out all wrong.  The color was not right to begin with and there was not a hint of curry taste.  It had too many sweet pickled vegetable and it gave the dish a weird sweet taste, which did not go with the soy based dish at all.  Had it been more spicy with curry punch then it might have been ok.  The only redeeming quality was the big prawns. 
Tasty Congee & Noodle 正斗粥面专家
3/F, IFC Mall, 8 Century Ave., Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 5012-3998

Ginza Bairin 銀座梅林

Ginza Bairin is a tonkatsu restaurant started off in Ginza some 80 years ago and now has branches across the world.  The menu in the Shanghai branch is not surprisingly full of pork dishes with a small selection of fried prawns and cold dishes.  I decided to be a piggy and I ordered a side order of fried pork fillets (~RMB30/fillet) on top of my katsudon (RMB118).  My greed paid off totally.  The pork fillets were one of the best I had had in years, and much more superior to the ones in Tonkichi in Hong Kong.  Where do they source their pork I wonder?  The meat was so tender and juicy it's pork at its best.  And how do they keep the batter so crispy and not a hint of oil?  Two thumbs up. 
My katsudon did not disappoint either.  Again the pork was very tender (but I did prefer the texture of the fillets) and the sauce hit all the right notes.  It was quite pricey but a highly satisfying meal. 
Ginza Bairin 銀座梅林 
4/F, IFC Mall, 8 Century Avenue, Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 5015-5087